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Often, we hear stories of women bravely speaking about their experience of being sexually abused and violated on social media, in legal courts, and even to their own families. Instead of words of comfort and compassion, however, they hear this one question: “What were you wearing when it happened?”

This concept of victim-blaming is what by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women’s exhibit called “Don’t Tell Me How To Dress” wants to challenge.

The exhibit, which has just been moved to the Gateway Mall for a March 1-9 run, feature the representation of clothes survivors wore when they were sexually harassed or assaulted. Beside the clothing are stories from children as young as 18 months old to those old enough to be working individuals.

The clothes, exhibited with permission from the owners, help bring the stories of gender-based violence come to life, instead of being just words in a news article or a figure in a yearly statistic. It also builds on the global #MeToo movement, where women and children come together to break the silence on sexual assault and harassment.

“Don’t Tell Me How To Dress” is the brainchild of Thailand-based model and activist Cindy Sirinya Bishop. It is now part of a national campaign for the International Women’s Month called “Respeto Naman,” which aims to end sexual abuse and violence in the country.

After its successful launch at the Powerplant Mall late last year and a follow-up run at the Rockwell Business Center last January, the exhibit’s next stop is at the SM Aura on March 10-17.

What are your thoughts on this exhibit?


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